Ride Don't Hide 2019 Reflections

You’ve heard of Terry Fox. You’ve heard Rick Hansen. But have you heard of Michael Schratter?

“Back in 2009, Michael Schratter took a leave of absence from his job as a Vancouver school teacher, moved his worldly possessions into storage, said goodbye to his family and friends, and then set off on one heck of a bicycle ride.

Over the next year and a half, Michael would ride his Norco Cabot, loaded down with 105-pounds of gear and water, the equatorial distance of the globe. Cycling 40,000 kilometres in all, the Homeric odyssey took him through 33 countries and six continents, before returning home to Vancouver 469 days later.

His round-the-world solo bike ride was much more than a super-sized adventure, however. Fueling the trip was a highly personal cause. Driven by his experiences with bi-polar disorder, and the shame associated with it, Michael used his global tour to draw attention to the stigma surrounding mental illness. He called his journey Ride Don’t Hide.

After completing his trip, Ride Don’t Hide became an annual community bike ride in support of the Canadian Mental Health Association.” (Project Change)

It was such an honour for Vancouver Island Voices for Eating Disorders to be able to participate as a vendor in this year’s event in Victoria. We’ve come a long way in terms of reducing stigma towards, increasing awareness of, and increasing supports for, mental health issues. That said, there’s still a ways to go. Even the fact that you’ve probably never heard of Michael Schratter speaks to the need for more awareness around these issues, especially as some issues still face more stigma than others as they may be harder to understand, be surrounded by harmful stereotypes and misinformation, and harder to empathize with (e.g. eating disorders, addiction, schizophrenia, etc.)

Thank you to The Canadian Mental Health Association (B.C. Division) for allowing us to be part of this. Thank you to everyone who volunteered with us. Thank you to those who stopped by and said hi. We are so grateful for the courageous and the awkward conversations today as people opened themselves up to share and listen. Embrace that awkwardness! Embrace that discomfort! Embrace that vulnerability! Embrace sharing and learning and coming to understand your fellow human beings in their unique and complex journeys (however messy they may be at times)!

We’ve come a long way, but we’re going further.

-S. Ritchey

Shaely RitcheyComment